O's closer to overhaul of Fort Lauderdale park

December 14, 2006|By Sarah Talalay and Brittany Wallman | Sarah Talalay and Brittany Wallman,South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles left the Broward County Commission chambers with less than they wanted, but a step closer to finalizing a $40 million plan to overhaul Fort Lauderdale Stadium for spring training and to create a recreational park complex.

The team had hoped the county would create an $800,000 reserve fund to cover an annual pledge of hotel taxes for 30 years to help pay for the project. Team officials wanted to ensure the county would have the dollars available in case of an economic or tourism downturn.

Commissioners, who unanimously approved the funding plan, said late Tuesday that the reserve wasn't necessary because the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has agreed to reduce its advertising budget by $800,000 if there is a shortfall during the life of the deal.

Under the plan, Fort Lauderdale Stadium would be upgraded to have 7,000 fixed seats and berms with room for 2,000 fans. The adjacent Lockhart Stadium would be razed, and three practice fields and four multi-purpose fields would be added.

City and county approvals are needed for the city to be eligible to receive $15 million in state sales tax rebate dollars set aside for communities with aging spring training venues.

Sarah Talalay and Brittany Wallman write for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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